Travel Journal#5.17b: Another Wonderful Ukraine Festival
Diary of a Traveling Sadhaka, Vol. 5, No. 17b
By Krishna-kripa das
(September 2009, part one, section two)
(Sent from Paris, France on September 29, 2009)
Another Wonderful Ukraine Festival
Insights from Niranjana Swami, Prahladananda Swami,
Devamrita Swami, Candramauli Swami, Prabhavishnu Swami,
Gopiparanadhana Prabhu, Srutakirti Prabhu,
Lilasuka Prabhu, and Mother Devaki
The Ukraine festival is always wonderful, and the devotees I talked to said it was one of the best ever. There are always many senior devotees giving great seminars and lots of kirtana. This year the weather was sunny and warm, practically every day. The Black Sea’s water is much warmer even in September than Poland’s Baltic Sea in midsummer. One devotee told me the high point of the festival for him was that his parents, who were formerly critical, came to the festival and enjoyed it. Some of the beachgoers were curious about what was going on, and that devotee’s mom explained to them about the devotees and their festival. Actually, many people on their vacations benefited spiritually, accidentally encountering the devotees at the beachside resort there in Zaozernoe, near Evpatoriya, in Crimea. Candramauli Swami, who attended the Ukraine festival for the first time, writes, “I can assuredly say it was one of the best all-round Krishna Consciousness festivals in the Western world. I have had similiar expierences with H. H. Radhanath Maharaja’s Pune Yatra program in India.”
For me this year was a different experience from before as I was a presenter for three years (and a guest of a presenter before that). This year I was just another of the nearly four thousand attendees. I missed the opportunities to talk with some of the senior devotee presenters over lunch and to hear their conversations. I also missed the opportunity to dance on the stage with the presenters and musicians during the evening kirtanas. So although it was all very nice, still I missed some of the experiences I was accustomed to having, and which I liked. I also felt I gave less to others than previous years, just a few smiles, hugs, and few dances. Although my previous seminars on science and Krishna consciousness were not well attended, some people always expressed gratitude that I presented them, and so I felt encouraged. This year, I also missed hearing several seminars due to proofreading the BTG, which always comes at this time. Previously I would tell the editor I couldn’t do it as I had to prepare and give presentations, but this time I tried to do it and learned it just takes too much time, especially because the final issue of the year has an index of all the year’s articles which as to be checked. So next year I plan to offer to do a seminar on the five most important items of devotional service and to avoid proofreading the November/December BTG.
A nice feature was I got to share a place with my godbrother, Caitanya Candrodaya Prabhu, who is the webmaster for Satsvarupa Dasa Goswami’s web page, www.sdgonline.org. Because I proofread our guru’s online journal it was very convenient to be working out of the same office, so to speak, since I could proofread it as soon as he formatted it for the internet.
Insight from Lectures
I want to talk about Srila Prabhupada’s acceptance of sannyasa. His sannyasa was a facility to execute the order to preach in the English langugage, an order he received from Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura on his first meeting with him back in 1922. Lord Kapila tells how the devotee gives up all friendly acquaintances in this material world to engage in staunch devotional service to the Lord. In the 1940s, Srila Prabhupada helped out B. R. Sridhara Swami and Bhaktisaranga Swami in their Gaudiya Matha preaching in Bombay. Sridhara Swami was impressed and suggested to Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura that he might be the temple president in Bombay. Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura said, “No, in time he will do everything.” Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura marked our Srila Prabhupada as one who liked to hear. And Srila Prabhupada himself said, “He who hears nicely will preach nicely.”
I distributed Back to Godhead (BTG) magazines the same day the devotees shaved me up. I had such long hair, it took the devotee 45 minutes to cut my hair with scissors, and then he had to shave me. I went out with BTGs stuffed in a Boston Globe newspaper bag. The devotees just left us in town with the bag of magazines, and we had to figure out what to say. The blood was still moist from the shaving attempt, and people did not know what to think, seeing my appearance.
Srila Prabhupada, however, did everything for BTG, from writing, buying the paper, begging for money, and finally personally distributing it, in the tea stalls, bazaars, and in people’s homes. One person said they knew Srila Prabhupada was coming with a new issue of BTG because they recognized the sound of his old broken bicycle.
One time at 1:00 a.m. Srila Prabhupada pounded on Sridhara Maharaja’s door saying he had a dream of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura telling him to take sannyasa. Sridhara Maharaja had doubts about giving Srila Prabhupada sannyasa because he had connections with Srila Prabhupada’s wife’s family. In fact, two times Srila Prabhupada banged on Sridhara’s Maharaja’s door at 1:00 a.m. with the same message. Sridhara Maharaja suggested he start with bahudak first, where one does not complete give up the family connection and not rush into sannyasa. That very day, Srila Prabhupada, although not an initiated sannyasi, left home, without telling anyone. Before he took sannyasa, he was in Vrindavana, and he wrote a poem “Vrindavana Bhajana.” “Krishna has shown me the naked form of material nature . . . all that is left of this family life is a list of names . . . Everyone is your relative on the spiritual plane.”
In his condolence letter on the disappearance of Bhakti Prajna Kesava Maharaja, he said that Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura was speaking through him by inspiring him to take sannyasa.At that time, Prabhupada told how his disciples he was fearful to take sannyasa, but one who serves Krishna never loses. He gave up a few children and ended up with three hundred children. At the end of “Vrindavana Bhajana,” Srila Prabhupada writes “Dayita Dasa says, always preach your life will be successful, loud chanting is your initiation, destroy the nonsense sound of the radio by loud kirtana, come out of your cage, chanting the Hare Krishna loudly, remembrance of Krishna will come spontaneously.”
Bhakti Vilasa Tirtha Maharaja was claiming to be the real Gaudiya Math because he was in possession of the documents of incorporation, and thus Srila Prabhupada wrote to him about takingsannyasa and being sponsored on a preaching mission to America, as Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura desired. Bhakti Vilasa Tirtha Maharaja encouraged him to come live in the temple, do some menial service, and someday sannyasa would come. Again Srila Prabhupada wrote a more emphatic letter saying that now is the time to seriously preach the message of Caitanya Mahaprabhu throughout the world especially in English, as Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura desired, and he asked for sannyasa, sponsorship, and help with printing books in English. Bhakta Vilasa Tirtha Swami replied as before, except adding, “We have so many books Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura ordered us to print, but you can help, and when we finish, perhaps we will print some in English.”
Srila Prabhupada spoke an entire lecture in English on his sannyasa initiation day, although only B. P. Kesava Maharaja, Krishna dasa Babaji Maharaja, and Narayana Maharaja knew the language.
Krishna dasa Babaji Maharaja was nonpolitical as all he did was Krishna kirtana. Krishna dasa Babaji was happily chanting Hare Krishna on the occasion of his godbrother’s taking sannyasa. One person told him to chant softer, but Srila Prabhupada motioned, “Chant louder.” Later Krishna dasa Babaji Maharaja told Srila Prabhupada’s disciples when he received encouragement from Prabhupada to chant louder, he understood that Srila Prabhupada would be successful in his mission.
We honor Srila Prabhupada for 50th anniversary of sannyasa and pray we can all make this Krishna consciousness our life and soul as Srila Prabhupada desired us to do.
The Kumaras give many good instructions on spiritual life. To remember them all is difficult, what to speak of applying them.
The root is the most important. By watering the root of the tree one waters the whole tree. By pleasing the Lord, everyone is pleased. One learns how to please the guru from the guru in disciplic succession. Sri Caitanya-caritamrita tells that Krishna is the Lord in the heart, and the siksa guru is representing Him. Prabhupada explains there are two kinds of siksa gurus. One who is receiving Krishna’s instructions at every moment to execute His mission and has transcended material influences. He gets mercy from the ocean of mercy and can supply as much mercy as is needed. Srila Prabhupada is such a person. The other siksa guru is not fully realized but can instruct a person up to his level of realization and can repeat the instructions of the perfect acarya. Bhagavad-gitaverse 7.3 does not sound very encouraging, as so few attain Krishna, but verse 4.10 says that in the past, many people became purified through the yoga Krishna describes. Lord Caitanya teaches we must come to the point of crying out to Krishna, “Please accept me.” Bhagavad-gita 12.9 states that if we cannot fix our mind on Krishna, by engaging in devotional service, we will develop a desire to attain Him. ISKCON is under the protection of Srila Prabhupada’s instructions. Prabhupada, seeing the people in the depths of materialism, prayed in helplessness to Krishna to give him inspiring words to help the people.
In this civilization people work hard to create things that they do not need and which cause them difficulty. People take shelter of wealth, but are in anxiety that at any amount their money may be devalued. People are so bewildered they cannot see the wisdom of taken shelter of Srila Prabhupada. It is our task to help people to see why it is advantageous to take shelter of Srila Prabhupada.
By hearing about Krishna, we engage in devotional service, we become detached from material things, and we become attached to Krishna. By hearing about Krishna, we become purified and our minds become peaceful and we can hear more clearly about Krishna, and thus understand the value of pure devotional service and thus strive for it.
To accept Krishna means we must be ready to accept than we are only 1/10000 of a hair tip in size. If we have a grand conception of ourselves, that will be difficult.
Because of frustration from Krishna’s absence, Radharani tried to stop thinking of Him, however, the more She tried to stop thinking of Krishna, the more She became ecstatic by remembering Him. Unfortunately, we do not have that problem. Therefore there is a process to bring us to that point.
The devotees are fortunate because they practice thinking of Krishna, and thus they either elevated to Krishna’s abode, or they attain another human body in which to practice.
Japa is a great opportunity because we have a chance to hear our own chanting and thus have a chant to improve it. By chanting nicely we will feel Krishna’s presence. We must chant attentively. So it is good to think that this is my last round, not that I will live longer than Lord Brahma.
Sit in a nice place with things that remind us of Krishna.
Chanting is not a fight against the mind. It is question of using the intelligence so the mind becomes attracted to the chanting. We should feel that Krishna is present, and He is so great, all we can do is to chant as lovingly as possible, and let Krishna will reveal Himself as He desires, and we should not maintain preconceptions as to how.
At nistha, as soon as one chants “Hare Krishna” he is liberated. If any material desires appear, he does not take them very seriously. He is a madhyama, and sees everyone as Krishna’s servant.
In the groves of Vrindavan, all the living beings are serving the Divine Couple in pure love. Krishna appreciates the love of the residents of Vrindavana and reciprocates by loving in return, and feeling His reciprocation, the love of the residents of Vrindavan increases. Lord Caitanya is in anxiety to enter that loving festival. Everything is revealed through the chanting of the holy name.
If we cannot see Krishna in this world, how are we going to see Him in the bushes of Vrindavan? To perform devotional service, we should understand how the material energy works, so we are not tricked by maya. Practical service to the sankirtana movement is our first lila (pastime). Then we can see how Lord Caitanya’s pastimes provide models for our devotional lives. Otherwise we will be unable to appreciate Krishna’s pastimes in the spiritual world.
Q: Are there any other processes we should do besides the chanting of the holy name?
A: No, the chanting is enough. It was good enough for Lord Caitanya. It is good enough for us. There are the five potent processes, but these are all in relationship to the holy name.
Kamsa, materialistic as he was, thought Akrura would be impressed with the new chariot he provided for the trip to Vrindavana to get Krishna, and that Krishna and Balarama, as simple cowherd boys, would be attracted by it and want to ride on it.
Later in the Tenth Canto Vasudeva thanked Narada for agitating the situation so Krishna appeared earlier.
On Ekadasi, Akrura stayed up all night in ecstasy in anticipation of his trip to Vrindavana the next day. He even forgot to break his Ekadasi fast.
That Dvadasi was action-packed in Vrindavan, with Krishna killing Kesi, the last formidable demoniac opponent sent by Krishna. Vyomasura, a minor player, was killed later in the day.
Sometimes we think that great souls like Akrura do not have impediments in devotional service, only we have impediments.
Some people say, “It is so difficult to practice Krishna consciousness in Ukraine. Perhaps you have some nice service we can perform in Australia. We are sincere devotees. You have to find a situation free from impediments for us, Maharaja.” Do you know what percentage of Ukrainian devotees actually survive spiritually when they come to Australia? Practically zero.
How many of you have loved someone so much that upon seeing his footprints you roll in the dust. Akrura, although a wealthy aristocrat, did just that, although pride in social position would tend to prevent such a person from doing that.
What if Kamsa found out Akrura rolled in the dust of Krishna’s footprints? Kamsa may become angry and kill Akrura as he has killed so many others. For some, fear would be an impediment, but not for Akrura.
The yajnic brahmanas could not follow their wives good example and go to Krishna and Balarama because they were afraid of Kamsa.
To see everything in relationship with Krishna is to see Krishna.
When Srila Prabhupada came into to my BBT office, I first looked at his feet for some time. Then gradually I raised my vision to his face. He was smiling and looking around the room, and he didn’t say anything, but uttered a very satisfied “Hmmmmmm.”
Serving Krishna in Ukraine is the express train back to Godhead. To imagine yourself as an enjoyer of the material world in Ukraine, you have to be a great fool. So actually you are in a very good place. Problems and worries are Krishna’s reminder that you cannot enjoy here. So many leaders are telling you that the Ukraine festival is the best. So actually you are very wealthy. Even Bhakti Vijnana Swami, who is in charge of Russia [where they also have a large festival], says that the Ukraine festival is the best.
Akrura meditates on Krishna’s lotus feet. By the effulgence from even one of Krishna’s toe nails, many people have been delivered. Krishna’s feet have been worshiped by all the great demigods. On those feet, Krishna walked through the forest, and herded the cows with the cowherd boys. They are smeared with kumkum from the gopis’ chests.
Akrura anticipated seeing Krishna’s face surrounded by curling hair, with beautiful nose and cheeks, and reddish lotus eyes.
The materialists see one’s body or one’s bodily extensions as the center. The devotees see Krishna in the center.
Only on the platform of pure devotional service is complete selflessness manifested. The story of Krishna having a headache illustrates this. Only the greatest devotees, the gopis, would offer the dust from their feet to cure Krishna’s headache. The others were fearful of some sinful reaction.
Pride causes us to commit offenses because it creates within us certain expectations of how we will be treated. The pastime involving Siva and Daksa shows the havoc a little pride can create in Vaishnava relationships.
Devotees are respectable because of all the human beings, so few render devotional service unto the Supreme Lord.
Service is the principle behind devotional relationships.
Satyaraja Khan once asked Lord Caitanya Mahaprabhu, “Who is a Vaishnava?” “Anyone who has even once chanted the Hare Krishna maha-mantra once,” was the Lord’s reply.
One who respects superiors and learns from them, makes friends with equals, and is compassionate to less qualified people, can live without material anxieties. (SB 4.8.34) If we act in this way, we will be happy in Krishna consciousness.
There are misunderstandings because of languages or cultural conditioning. We should be careful not to let external circumstances keep new relationships from developing or cause existing relationships to spoil.
A king who had everything, out of his whimsy, asked his ministers for something that would make him happy when he was unhappy and unhappy when he was happy. The most intelligent minister gave him a ring with four words inscribed in it that he was to read when afflicted by happiness or distress: “This soon will end.”
Expert devotees make progress both in difficult and easy situations. If we can see Krishna in all situations, then we transcend the ocean of birth and death. The association of Vaishnavas is Krishna’s special mercy. By their association we acquire the qualities we need to chant the holy name.
Learning is more important than teaching, because to teach we first have to learn. Krishna gave you two ears and one tongue, so hearing is twice as important as speaking.
Although it can be said you should chant for twenty-fours hours, at least sixteen rounds you should chant in a place where you can chant attentively.
Tolerance is the beginning. Forgiveness is the end result. The more we can forgive, the easier it is to chant Hare Krishna. So a devotee is humble, tolerant, and forgiving.
Lord Caitanya would hear Gadadhara Pandita narrate Srimad-Bhagavatam pastimes like those of Dhruva and Prahlada up to one hundred times in the same day!
Hearing must be with rapt attention to be fully effective.
Chanting and hearing the glories of the Lord is the satisfaction of the soul.
One guru was saying that what gives him the most pain is to hear of devotees decreasing their program of hearing and chanting the glories of the Lord.
When asked what pleases the spiritual master the most, Srila Prabhupada answered it is that his followers develop love for God.
Srila Prabhupada once said, “Chanting Hare Krishna and you will understand everything.”
Caitanya Mahaprabhu advised that one avoid the association of materialistic people because that hampers our devotional service. Hearing from insincere people reduces our sincerity.
Rupa Goswami teaches the six kinds of loving exchanges between devotees, as he personally learned them from Lord Caitanya.
Srila Prabhupada says that ISKCON was created to facilitate the six kinds of loving exchanges. Also these six exchanges are the cause of the expansion of this movement.
The success is in purity of the practitioner. We want everyone to be a moon. The quality of our relationships is an essential part of our purity. Our material assets are not so important. Purity is the force.
Everyone should have a more advanced devotee one can reveal one’s mind to and get answers to doubts.
Preaching is charity or giving the gift of the holy name.
Giving a gift is a way of appreciating a devotee.
When Rama, Sita, and Laksmana all returned to Ayodhya, Sita felt so grateful to Hanuman for his sacrifice of going to Lanka to reassure her of Rama’s coming, she decided to offer him a necklace that Rama had formerly given her. She took off the necklace, looked toward Rama for His permission, and He nodded, and she placed the necklace on Hanuman.
One godsister of mine, Mother Nidra, gives gifts regularly to devotees and really exemplifies this teaching of Rupa Goswami. The story of how she became married is an interesting one. [I will include it in a future issue of this journal.]
Feelings of appreciation are natural, because Krishna appreciates every one of us.
If you do not forgive, it hurts you and not the other person. You have to continue to carry the burden of the offense with you.
Material relationships: If your happiness benefits me, then it is worth pursuing.
Vaishnava association has no material goal, but the association itself is considered valuable.
Treat problems as soon as they arise by talking with others, or they could become worse.
Prasadam stealing at New Vrindavan was an epidemic because prasadam was austere and only at regulated times. The maha-prasadam was locked up. The resident sannyasi decided to punish the offense of prasadam stealing by making the punishment that the thief had to get married. In this way many of the brahmacaris were married to the brahmacarinis, thus solving the problem of all the finding husbands for the girls. They increased the security by putting nails sticking out around the inside of the small opening in the cabinet that remained when it was locked. Finally they got a refrigerator with a chain locked around it. Then some stole the whole refrigerator and used some dynamite to blow the lock off.
Who can you reveal your mind to? An important consideration is to find someone who does not have the same problem. What about someone who once had the problem but overcame it? That is alright, but their problem may come back. The best qualification is that the person is successful is solving other devotees’ similar problems.
Everyone should have someone in the movement to whom you can open your heart completely.
Srila Prabhupada would appear to one girl and speak to her, and she became proud of that and mentioned it to many people. Later she said that Srila Prabhupada stopped speaking to her as soon as she started talking about.
It is said when bhava (preliminary love of God) develops, one should not reveal it.
At an initiation ceremony of Niranjana Swami’s disciples, Candramauli Swami, was asked to speak:
Accepting initiation is the beginning of human life. By accepting a guru one can know and love Krishna. Krishna empowers the gurus to do His work of delivering the souls back to Godhead. The disciple must merely whole-heartedly execute the order of the guru. Srila Prabhupada credited his success to his eagerness to execute his guru’s order.
One can attain the spiritual world only by the mercy of the Lord, but an important manifestation of the Lord’s mercy is His instructions.
Although the Lord appears in nonhuman forms, generally we see He interacts with the members of human and demigod society. On rare occasions the Lord delivers animals, like Sivananda Sena’s dog, who attained a spiritual form by the grace of Lord Caitanya and who returned to the spiritual world.
This age of Kali-yuga is so unfortunate that after transmigrating through so many species and attaining the human form, we use our intelligence for sense gratification, and thus go downward back to the lower species.
Instead, we should take advantage of the Lord’s instructions. Occasionally one is instructed by the Lord Himself, but generally one receives the Lord’s instructions through the line of spiritual teachers. The qualification of the guru is that he presents Krishna’s instructions are they are. It is not that we have a few gurus and they are sufficient, but rather, everyone should try to become guru, because only if people hear the Lord’s instructions can they attain the spiritual world.
It is nice to see you all here absorbed in performing sankirtana for that will give you strength to serve Lord Caitanya all year.
The people in general, neophyte devotees, and probably most of us, need to be told to live a “simpler and more natural” way of life and thus Srila Prabhupada included that in the purposes of ISKCON.
Raghunatha das Goswami lived in Radha Kunda forty-seven years. Most Russian and Ukrainian devotees who try to live in Radha Kunda last two or three months on average.
Srila Prabhupada gave practical programs to engage the senses of his followers. Publication and distribution of books, and centers (which do recruitment and training) are some of these.
If you understand life is simply for preaching Lord Caitanya’s message, then varnasrama is not required.
Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura dressed his sannyasis, grhasthas, and brahmacaris, in different ways.
It is more natural that devotees recognize their varna and not try to do all services at once.
Do for Krishna what you do well, and do not worry about doing that which you do not do well.
When Krishna reveals Himself, there is nothing left to achieve.
Q: How do you understand the needs of the mind vs. the whimsical demands of the mind?
A: The mind makes it very difficult to understand what it needs and what is superfluous. Therefore we must take the help of someone who can objective analyze our situation and advise us. But we have to be honest with the spiritual master. If you do not tell the doctor your actual symptoms, he cannot help you.
Q: Why doesn’t Prabhupada mention prema in the seven purposes of ISKCON.
A: It is implicit. It is too imitate for a public document. Krishna consciousness is mentioned and you cannot be conscious of Krishna without loving Him. Coming closer to Krishna is mentioned and without love one cannot get near Krishna.
Once when Kamsa was frustrated that all the demons he sent to Vrindavan were killed by Krishna, he decided to go to Vrindavan Himself. He drove to the Vrindavan border, got off his chariot, and asked some old ladies where to find this boy Krishna. They said to wait, and that they would send someone to look for Him. While waiting, they suggested he help them make cow patties, which he did. After there was no news and several hours had elapsed he returned to Mathura. Without love for Krishna, you cannot come near to Him.
Srila Prabhupada would always say, “Devotional service is voluntary.” One sannyasi told Srila Prabhupada, “I am a sannyasi. I want to preach in America and distribute your books, and make devotees.”
Srila Prabhupada replied, “But I need you in India.”
The conversation went back and forth, their voices becoming louder on both sides. It was so intense, that Srutakirti Prabhu, who had never spoken above a whisper to Prabhupada, was feeling increasingly uncomfortable. Finally Srila Prabhupada said, “Chant sixteen rounds, follow the four regulative principles, and do whatever you want.” He said that because devotional service is voluntary. He said the same thing on other occasions as well.
Q: Srila Prabhupada amazingly spread Krishna consciousness all over the world. Is there anything he felt he didn’t complete?
A: Yes. He said he only completed 50% because he did not implement varnasrama dharma. He left that for his disciples and granddisciples.
When my godbrothers complain they cannot preach because if they go to the temple no one will listen to them, I tell them to go to Ukraine and thousands of people will listen. Go to Eastern Europe.
Everyone is empowered by Srila Prabhupada in this society. Just use every opportunity you have to spread this movement. You do not have to wait. Srila Prabhupada said, “You can change the whole world.” It becomes our responsibility. And the more you give Krishna, the more you get Krishna.
I have come to this Ukraine festival because Niranjana Maharaja said he could not imagine a festival without Srila Prabhupada katha and he invited me to come. I feel very close to him. He is very faithful to Srila Prabhupada’s instructions. He knows how to treat devotees. Niranjana Swami had a dream of being in Srila Prabhupada’s room massaging Srila Prabhupada’s feet, and then he saw me [Srutakirti Prabhu], and felt very embarrassed because I was accustomed to do that service. So we each took one foot, and continued the massage, and the dream ended. Niranjana Swami said Srila Prabhupada’s feet felt very smooth and very cool. He spoke to me by phone soon after and was happy to have me confirm the qualities of Srila Prabhupada’s feet.
1. have forgotten Krishna
2. and so identify with body, false ego, and have a sense of “this is mine”
3. thus they became attached to the happiness of the body, and their minds became uncontrolled
4. and finally they endeavor for temporary things
1. never engage their senses in sense gratification, only for Krishna
2. are free from attachment, fear, and anger
3. are free from dualities based on the body
4. always engage in hearing the topics of Krishna
Items favorable to devotional service:
These I gathered from many readings of Bhagavatarka-marici-mala by Bhaktivinoda Thakura.
We cannot control material nature. Material nature is much more powerful than we are. However, simply by fixing our mind on Krishna, we can transcend the influence of material nature.
1. Associate with devotees.
When I first came to the temple, I noticed two things. The devotees had time to listen to me, and they served me. When someone serves, you can understand they love you. Sarva-bhuta-bhutatma.(Bg. 5.7) Even the neophyte devotee is a friend to all.
2. Become absorbed in Krishna’s pastimes and activities.
“Because My devotees are without material desires [they think only of Me], I am residing in their hearts,” the Lord to Durvasa Muni (Ninth Canto).
Once while Srutikirti was massaging Srila Prabhupada, Srutakirti said, “I do not see any love for you in my heart.” Srila Prabhupada was silent. Several hours later, however, he said, “How can you say that you do not love me. You are serving me so nicely.” From this we can conclude that if we see someone nicely serving Krishna, there must be some love there.
3. Pray for the association of devotees.
Once time I was on vacation in southern Germany with my family, and for two weeks and I did not see one devotee. I prayed to Krishna that I might see a devotee. I went on a japa walk and just as I finished my 16th round, I saw a devotee standing before me. We should pray for the association of devotees.
4. Never find faults, but glorify devotees.
We should never criticize devotees. Instead glorify their good qualities. Make a vow each morning to glorify at least three devotees that day, and see how it transforms your devotional service. If you glorify good qualities in others, you develop them, and when you meditate on faults in others, you will develop them in yourself. That is how it works. A manager may have to correct someone, but he should do it as a service to benefit the person, and not focus on the fault. The spiritual qualities are the reality. When one acquires a spiritual quality, it remains eternally.
A spiritual master does not think of himself as a guru, but a servant of his disciples.
What is important in the heart of the devotee is the determination to become a pure devotee of Krishna. If one is in the shower, one should not criticize him for being dirty, for he is being cleansed.
5. Discuss topics about Krishna.
Our desires are the subtle cause for our conditioned state or our liberation. If we desire sense enjoyment, we contact the material energy, but if we desire to serve Krishna alone, we are imperceptibly liberated. In time our complete liberation becomes manifest. In one lecture given in New Mayapur, Srila Prabhupada says, “I guarantee if you chant 16 rounds daily and follow the four regulative principles, you will go back to Godhead.” This is because of the purifying power of devotional service.
6. Follow the great souls.
One who is spiritually advanced understands his desires are mental concoctions and does not act on them. Hankering and lamentation absorb us in material consciousness. By absorbing oneself in hearing about Krishna one forgets these material conditions.
7. Be satisfied with whatever one achieves.
One should be satisfied with one’s condition because he is put into his condition by the supreme will. If we are put into happiness, we are diminishing our past pious reactions, and if we are put into suffering, we are diminishing our past impious reactions. As we attain unhappiness without endeavoring, we will also attain happiness without endeavoring.
8. Remember life is temporary.
We should always remember life is temporary, and all our achievements are like decorations on a dead body.
When you die, what do you take with you? Your sinful reactions. Thus we should live without sin and be Krishna conscious.
We should forgive. If we do not forgive, we keep an aversion to the person in the heart. If someone offends us, it is because we offended in a previous life, and they are delivering the reaction.
10. Do not waste time.
Prahlada recommends that one begin devotional service at five years old. We have limited time and cannot buy back a moment. But in this one life we can attain perfection.
The animal has no choice but to identify himself with his body, he does so automatically, but in the human form of life, we have the intelligence to transcend bodily identification.
Why are we covered by designations? It is our fault. Krishna says in Bhagavad-gita 13.21, by the association of the soul with the material nature he enjoys the happiness and distress of this world. Krishna advises to regulate the senses (Bg. 3.43). By engaging all the senses in the devotional service of the Lord this is accomplished.
We are 1/10000 tip of a hair in size, as spiritual souls, and thus we cannot control the material nature, but by engaging all the senses, beginning with the mind, in Lord Krishna’s service, one can transcend the material nature.
If Krishna is in our mind, then there is no room for material desires, but if we do not engage in Krishna’s service, even for one moment, maya will come in.
Complete renunciation begins with understanding how everything in this world is connected with Krishna and how Krishna is actually doing everything. When we understand that everything belongs to Krishna, we will use everything in Krishna’s service.
Spirit is the only dominant factor in this world. Material nature cannot transform itself. A beautiful flower comes into being because of the soul in the body of the plant.
During this festival we all had the opportunity to engage in devotional service from morning to evening and this was a great fortune. When we leave we should try to keep ourselves fully engaged in this way.
Q: What if we serve someone who cannot uplift us?
A: Then we should make sure that we have an uplifting influence on them. If we cannot uplift one another, then what is the point of the relationship? As listeners, you have an uplifting influence on me. The more qualified the audience, the more inspiring it is to speak.
Srila Prabhupada did not need so many years to prepare himself, but he set an example for us who do require to prepare ourselves for many years to be fully absorbed in the guru’s mission.
Srila Prabhupada makes the point that it does not matter what position one is in. As long as one is not duplicitous, he can gradually advance to the platform of pure devotion.
Gour Govinda Maharaja makes the point that simplicity is Vaishnavism. Don’t be calculating materially within like a politician while dressed as a Vaishnava. Then you are a Kali-cela and cannot become a follower of Caitanya Mahaprabhu.
Simplicity has both an internal and an external feature—simplicity in mind and simplicity in action.
One who dresses as a Vaishnava to earn money, fame or followers, is a disciple of Kali and not Vaishnava at all.
Bhaktivinoda Thakura advises one to “give up with special care” those who accept the external signs of religion but are sense enjoyers within. “Such hyprocrisy ruins everything. Better to associate with a sense enjoyer than such a hypocritical so-called religionist.” Such people are hard to rectify because they are pretending, both to the world and to themselves.
One might ask what is the difference between a Kali-cela and a sincere person who is not yet on the level he aspires to be? Someone might say that we are all Kali-celas because we are dressed like Vaishnavas and still desire sense enjoyment within. The answer is that the sincere person also has a real desire to attain pure devotion in the heart.
One might argue why should I offer obeisances if I do not really feel humble. Better I don’t. But in reality if we bow down and have a strong desire to be really humble within, we will progress toward real humility. Therefore we have to be cultivating the proper desire within as well as executing the proper behavior.
One might be very expert in preaching, teaching, and leading kirtana, but he may do it for name, fame, or profit.
Gaura Govinda Swami says, “The moment the thought ‘I am a Vaishnava’ enters the mind is the most dangerous moment. Then you cannot be ‘amani,’ without a desire for respect. If that thought remains in your heart, it will take you to hell.”
Without humility and tolerance, our Hari bhajana will be simply cheating.
Thinking “I am a senior devotee” or “I am a brahmana” will also keep us from offering respect to others.
Krishna consciousness is an internal process. We must be attentive to our motives. If something makes us angry, investigate our motive. There may be some material attachment causing this.
Becoming a pure servant is the solution for all the problems in the material world.
The real Vaishnava mood is not to proudly think “he is so fallen” I should not associate with this person, but rather humbly feel “I am so fallen, I cannot uplift this person.”
The process is one must deeply lament and repent to Krishna to eliminate these bad qualities. Krishna is the killer of all kinds of demons, and so we have to sincerely beg that He enters our hearts. He will do the job, if we sincerely ask. And therefore, we can see again, that it all comes down to cultivating a sincere desire for devotional service to Krishna.
The first step is that we recognize our little Kali-cela in the heart, and that should lead to us crying out to Krishna. O Lord, “I have so many bad qualities. Please help me.”
If we are simply meditating on our bad qualities, without connection to Krishna, it becomes a kind of mundane depressiveness. That will not help us. Spiritual means we have to connect it to Krishna. Our hopelessness must result in our taking shelter of Krishna. When we chant in the mood, “I need your mercy. Please pull out these weeds in my heart.” we can chant as Lord Caitanya recommends.
‘sadhu-sanga’, ‘sadhu-sanga’ sarva-sastre
kaya lava-matra sadhu-sange sarva-siddhi haya
“The verdict of all revealed scriptures is that by even a moment’s association with a pure devotee, one can attain all success.” (Sri Caitanya-caritamrita, Madhya 22.54)